Canoe / Paper Birch - Bonsai Tree - Betula Papyfera - 20 Seeds

Seeds for Africa


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Betula papyfera, the paper or canoe birch is a beautiful slender and graceful deciduous tree with with one of the whitest of barks that separates along horizontal slits and peels into thin papery layers, exposing an underbark which is pale orangish brown. The bark has a chalky covering that rubs off easily, and this is one way to distinguish this tree from other birches with white bark. The paper birch usually grows from 15 to 20 metres in height but can get as tall as 30m. It has a conical form and a rather sparse, open crown, more so in age. The leaves are ovate to heart-shaped, toothed, 5 to 7 cm long, and dark green, turning yellow to orange in the autumn. Male and female catkins are formed in the autumn and are present through the winter. The staminate (pollen-producing or male) flowers are in hanging catkins, 7 to 10 cm long, and the pistillate (female) flowers are in semi-erect cone like clusters about 2.5 cm long. The trees bear both kinds of flowers and these appear before the leaves in early spring. Paper birch is native to North America and has one of the widest ranges of any North American tree. It grows from coast to coast, from Pacific Alaska across all of Canada to Atlantic Newfoundland, as far north as trees grow. Southward, paper birch is common in New England, New York and the Great Lakes states. It grows very fast in its youth, but remains a tree of moderate proportions. It rarely lives more than 100-150 years. The papery bark was much used by native Americans to make canoes and roofing for their wigwams, as the bark is light, tough, durable and impervious to water. With its slender form, peeling papery bark and autumn colour change it can make an attractive bonsai subject. Paper birch does best in full sun to partial or dappled shade and will take a range of soils, including wet boggy soil.. Like other birches, paper birch has a shallow root system and should be watered during dry spells. It is an ultimately cold hardy tree that almost never grows naturally where average summer temperatures exceed 21C.

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